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Turing's Vision: The Birth of Computer Science

Turing's Vision: The Birth of Computer Science

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Publication Date: April 21st, 2017
The MIT Press
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An accessible and fascinating exploration of how Alan Turing’s mathematical theory gave rise to modern computer science and applications—from the desktops to cell phones

In 1936, when he was just 24 years old, Alan Turing wrote a remarkable paper in which he outlined the theory of computation, laying out the ideas that underlie all modern computers. This groundbreaking and powerful theory now forms the basis of computer science. In Turing’s Vision, Chris Bernhardt explains the theory for the general reader, beginning with its foundations and systematically building to its surprising conclusions. He also views Turing’s theory in the context of mathematical history, other views of computation (including those of Alonzo Church), Turing’s later work, and the birth of the modern computer.

Turing wanted to show that there were problems that were beyond any computer’s ability to solve; in particular, he wanted to find a decision problem that he could prove was undecidable. To explain Turing’s ideas, Bernhardt examines 3 well-known decision problems to explore the concept of undecidability; investigates theoretical computing machines, including Turing machines; explains universal machines; and proves that certain problems are undecidable, including Turing’s problem concerning computable numbers.

About the Author

Chris Bernhardt is Professor of Mathematics at Fairfield University and the author of Turing's Vision: The Birth of Computer Science (MIT Press).